House bill would allow rescue of pets in hot cars

Posted April 8, 2013

— A bill filed by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers would make it a crime to leave pets unattended in a car in hot or cold conditions and would give law enforcement the authority to take action to save them.

House Bill 612, filed Monday by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to leave a pet locked in a car in extreme temperatures or for long periods without food or water and a Class 1 misdemeanor if the act causes serious injury or death to the animal. 

The bill's co-sponsors are Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, and  Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union.

Harrison said a Carrboro veterinarian asked her to run the bill. 

Under current law, emergency responders called to help an animal in distress locked in a hot car have no legal authority to break a window or take other action to save the pet. All they can do is search for the pet's owner – a time-consuming task that can mean the difference between life or death for the trapped animal.

Harrison said many people who call police to help animals in distress in hot cars are amazed to learn there's little the police can do to help. 

The bill would give law enforcement the power to "enter a motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal."

The bill has been not yet referred to a committee.


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  • bernireed Apr 10, 2013

    people arent realistic. I looked at my lifestyle when I wanted a dog. I ended up with a runt of a mini doxie that I can tuck in my packpack and take in the store with me on a quick run for one or two items. I stay away from people in the store because I know people can be allergic. 12 years and never had to leave her in the car. I made a commitment to be responsible for the welfare of an innocent... people just dont THINK AHEAD nor are they honest with themselves....

  • babyblue1981 Apr 9, 2013

    Another law aimed at taking away Humans Rights - that is the right to THINK & the right to SUFFER should your BEST FRIEND die as a result of your stupidity. You cannot legislate away stupidity & we should not encourage our Government to do this. They need to stop creating laws, I think we have enough.

  • swabby01 Apr 9, 2013

    i sure hope this becomes law. i don't think people intend to hurt their pets by leaving them in the car but that doesn't mean that they made the right decision. it is difficult to for me to go to any shopping center in the spring/summer because so many people do leave their pets in the car but are gone longer than they meant to be or realize and although it is only 80 out the car is heating up. so i may be a 'do gooder' because i think you would want me to notify store management and then call the cops if your pet shows signs of distress. i don't understand the tone that trying to be helpful is unwanted behavior. i am not judging you but i see that it is perceived that way by some. i don't expect people to be perfect; i'm not. i assume you don't want to come back to see your animal dead or dying and are glad someone looked out for you. the cops can make the final decision. that is why we have laws. cars heat up faster than folks think; that is why the vets want this bill.

  • brassy Apr 9, 2013

    Wow, a NC bill that actually makes sense.

  • yellowhorses Apr 9, 2013

    This law does put it in the hands of law enforcement. And they shouldhave the determination over whether the person is charged. It is one small step from leaving an animal in a hot car to leaving a child in one.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for stupid.

  • mmtlash Apr 9, 2013

    For once something out of the NC State govt I agree with!

  • simplelogic Apr 9, 2013

    "Whatever is passed it needs to be enforced with infractions PUNISHED with jail time. NOT A MISDEMEANOR please!"

    Scubagirl, a very good friend of mine once left his dog in his car while in a restaurant. It was 5:30 pm, he had parked in the shade, left all windows open 4-5 inches, had a bowl of ice water for the dog as well as a battery-operated fan blowing on it. The hostess of the restaurant called the cops and told them that she had gone all over the restaurant looking for the owners - which was a lie - so the cops figured the owner didn't care about the dog. They broke into his car (in Cary) and removed the dog, and when he came out of the restaurant cited him for animal cruelty. Throughout this, there was NO evidence that the temperature was too high or that the dog was in any kind of distress. Do you really think my friend deserved jail time?

  • epee131 Apr 9, 2013

    I don't believe in removing a persons freedom over an animal. Do I understand that it is cruel to lock a dog in a hot car? Yes. Do I believe the police should pick the door? Yes. Break the window? Mmmmm probably not. Lock a person up? NO!!! I know you love the puppies and kitties, but they ain't people. I don't take away a persons freedom over this kind of thing.

  • acceptorchange Apr 9, 2013

    I can see some want to be do-gooders using this law as an excuse to toss a brick through a window then a do-gooder getting a royal rear end whooping. The problem with this is many times the "suffering" dogs have only been inside the car for a couple of minutes but "miss do-gooder" thinks"Oh mercy! That poor dog is going to die!" The common sense here should not be in the hands of casual observers who are looking to cause trouble. Remember when these same type people would always frown at someone using a cell phone in a restaurant??? Now hardly anyone notices. Let law enforcement handle it. And, please, we have enough laws.

  • Bewitched Apr 9, 2013

    I already thought we had laws covering this (animal abuse), but sounds as if we don't! I almost called the police on someone last week.